On the eve of a death penalty appeal in Pakistan, Liberal Senator Eric Abetz has joined with the British Pakistani Christian Association and the Australian Christian Lobby to call for greater scrutiny of Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy laws.
Asia Bibi was sentenced to the death penalty for committing blasphemy against the Islamic prophet Muhammed by a Pakistani court in 2010. Ms Bibi was allegedly involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other women grew angry with her for drinking the same water as them.
The appeal hearing by Pakistan’s Supreme Court today is an acid test for Pakistan’s judicial system. There is no doubt these laws are not only wrong in principle but are abused in a wholesale manner.
The $47 million that Australians supply through their taxes in aid to Pakistan needs to be leveraged to protect the human rights of Christians and other minorities.
Apart from Asia Bibi’s case, there is undisputed evidence that Christian women are forced into marriages, suffer rape and other atrocities whilst officials do nothing, and thereby provide a default sanctioning of this cruel and barbaric behaviour. On top of such barbism is the forcible transferring of children from minority groups.
The notorious ‘blasphemy’ laws in Pakistan need to become the focus of greater international attention to have those laws repealed and protect Asia Bibi and others from the death penalty.
The UNHCR’s incapacity or unwillingness to deal with and assist Pakistani Christian refugees in Thailand is a manner of great concern.
I congratulate Mr Wilson Chowdry of the British Pakistani Christian Association in his efforts to highlight these atrocities around the world.